The Asp99–Arg188 salt bridge of the Pseudomonas aeruginosa HemO is critical in allowing conformational flexibility during catalysis

Geoffrey A. Heinzl, Weiliang Huang, Elizabeth Robinson, Fengtian Xue, Pierre Möenne-Loccoz, Angela Wilks

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Scopus citations


Abstract: The P. aeruginosa iron-regulated heme oxygenase (HemO) is required within the host for the utilization of heme as an iron source. As iron is essential for survival and virulence, HemO represents a novel antimicrobial target. We recently characterized small molecule inhibitors that bind to an allosteric site distant from the heme pocket, and further proposed binding at this site disrupts a nearby salt bridge between D99 and R188. Herein, through a combination of site-directed mutagenesis and hydrogen–deuterium exchange mass spectrometry (HDX-MS), we determined that the disruption of the D99–R188 salt bridge leads to significant decrease in conformational flexibility within the distal and proximal helices that form the heme-binding site. The RR spectra of the resting state Fe(III) and reduced Fe(II)-deoxy heme-HemO D99A, R188A and D99/R188A complexes are virtually identical to those of wild-type HemO, indicating no significant change in the heme environment. Furthermore, mutation of D99 or R188 leads to a modest decrease in the stability of the Fe(II)-O2 heme complex. Despite this slight difference in Fe(II)-O2 stability, we observe complete loss of enzymatic activity. We conclude the loss of activity is a result of decreased conformational flexibility in helices previously shown to be critical in accommodating variation in the distal ligand and the resulting chemical intermediates generated during catalysis. Furthermore, this newly identified allosteric binding site on HemO represents a novel alternative drug-design strategy to that of competitive inhibition at the active site or via direct coordination of ligands to the heme iron.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1057-1070
Number of pages14
JournalJournal of Biological Inorganic Chemistry
Issue number7
StatePublished - Oct 1 2018


  • Biliverdin
  • Heme oxygenase
  • Oxygen activation
  • Protein dynamics
  • Pseudomonas aeruginosa

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry
  • Inorganic Chemistry


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